Your contact center serves as one of the main points of interaction between your business and your customers. And your agents are the fuel that keeps this engine running. When it comes to contact center scheduling, balancing the demands of customers and employees and keeping everyone happy can feel like an impossible task. Contact center volume drives the number and quality of agents needed to fulfill this demand, which means that employee preferences can often take a back seat.
While there are many factors to consider when building schedules for your contact center, it is important to lead with empathy and prioritize your people, considering their lives beyond the 9 to 5. Employees who are more satisfied with their work-life balance are more likely to be engaged with your customers. To help ensure you’re facilitating this work-life balance and on-the-job happiness, consider the following agent scheduling best practices:
Allow for flexible scheduling and think beyond the typical 9 to 5. Fostering work-life balance in the scheduling process is key to increasing employee satisfaction. Work with your employees to find schedules best suited for their unique needs and lifestyle, while ensuring your contact center needs are met. Offering options like split shifts, varying start times during the week, and longer shifts over fewer days are just some flexible ways of ensuring coverage. Alternative scheduling options serve as a driver for employee retention and can even be used as a recruiting tool.
Providing the seamless, frictionless experiences that your customers expect requires optimized and creative scheduling practices. There will always be shifts that are less desirable for your agents than others. One way to get the unpopular shifts filled is by incentivizing them. This gives your employees the motivation to take the shifts and aids in employee satisfaction. Being creative with your scheduling can provide needed allowances while staffing less desirable hours, facilitating shift trades, accommodating personal schedules and transportation needs, and making remote work possible.
Understand customer demand
The foundation of any successful scheduling program is an understanding of the level of customer demand that comes in through all your contact channels. Having this knowledge will help you project the number of agents needed to meet this interaction flow during peak times and down times. Being understaffed can cause long waits for customers, stress for your employees, and ultimately lower both customer and employee satisfaction. Customer behaviors ebb and flow throughout the day, the week, and even over the course of the year depending on seasonality, special events, and other factors, so it is important to consistently track this activity and build your schedule accordingly.
Understand agent demand
It’s equally as important to understand staff demand when determining their schedules and time off. How long does it typically take your employees to address a customer interaction? How long does it take for them to properly document engagements, record information, and fulfill other post-interaction requirements before moving on to the next contact? Looking deeper at these interaction and post-interaction needs will help you understand how to staff-up so your agents are empowered to fulfill these job requirements without feeling strapped for time. As a result, agents will be able to give each customer their full attention and will feel more supported and less stressed overall.
This piece is key throughout the entire contact center scheduling process. To be flexible, creative, and understanding of customer and agent demand, you must leverage data. Data will help you gain a holistic picture of contact center volume and the peak times and down times of an average day. It will also provide insights into KPIs like average customer-agent interaction time, helping you optimize your contact center performance. Data is essential to better understand your customers and your agents. You can use both qualitative and quantitative data to learn more about your employees and customers. VOC programs, customer and employee journey mapping, and one-on-one interviews are just some of the ways you can collect and analyze data to show your customers and employees that you know and value them.
Furthermore, using advanced analytics to understand individual agent performance is also key for your scheduling program. Data will help you identify when agents are performing best. Metrics like average handle time, quality scores, and customer satisfaction scores can highlight whether employees perform better in the morning, afternoon, or overnight. Understanding and scheduling according to when individuals perform their best can provide an enhanced customer experience and higher job satisfaction for employees.
Successful contact center scheduling is about creatively balancing the needs of customers and employees with empathy and understanding. When you meet the needs of your employees, they are more likely to be engaged, satisfied, and empowered to deliver the exceptional experiences your customers expect.
Your contact center agents are the face of your brand. It is crucial that your customers enjoy quality interactions every time they connect with them. Avtex offers the end-to-end contact center solutions and consulting you need to prevent any negative interactions from happening. Whether you need support with scheduling, contact center technology, or process improvement, Avtex can help you optimize your contact center.